Apparently, even Keith Richards has stopped drinking, as he shared in a recent Rolling Stone interview.
One of the most notorious partiers ever, Richards is certainly an example of the exception rather than the rule. If you’ve read his book, you know that if you can drink, shoot, snort, smoke, rub it on your skin, or do anything with a substance that gets you high, Keith Richards has been doing it before most of us have been born.
That he’s survived until now is a minor (or major) miracle. Thousands of younger, stronger people than him are taken by drugs every year (recently one of my favs, Mac Miller), and Richards is the exception rather than the rule. An estimated 88,000 Americans annually die alcohol-related deaths, most of them men.
I think that’s a remarkable statistic. Even at the height of a heroin epidemic, when all we hear about are how opioids are killing people left and right, more people are still dying of alcohol (22% more per year).
Of course, more people drink than do heroin. But isn’t the fact that alcohol is ubiquitous and still kills so many people shocking in and of itself?
To many, Richards is an inspiration. Musically, I can’t argue with that. Some of my earliest memories are listening to the Rollings Stones with my father, who is a huge fan. I was fortunate enough to see the Stones live when I was 18, and even though they were all in their 60’s, it was a high-energy, awesome experience.
Clearly, these guys are unique, freaks of nature almost. But when we tell ourselves that drinking is fun and makes us better, we always point to the Rolling Stones and ignore those 88,000 that die every year, or the people living in the street who have lost everything to alcohol. Including their own bandmate, Brian Jones and many of their contemporaries, like Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix.
Now that Richards is sober, his fellow Rolling Stone, Ronnie Wood, shared in the same interview that Richards is more open to new ideas, and less likely to get “nasty”. I think we can all relate to those particular impacts of alcohol.
It’s a crazy idea, I know, but instead of alcohol being the source of the band’s creativity and success, maybe it was holding them back.
Not everyone is Keith Richards. You wouldn’t rush out to get addicted to heroin and cocaine to fuel your creativity, and you don’t have to wait until you’re in your 70’s to stop drinking.